What goes into an authentic recipe for pesto sauce? The answer depends on who you ask but the consensus is this tasty sauce originated in the port city of Genoa, located in the Italian region of Liguria.
The fact that pesto sauce comes to Liguria is important. The region produces extra virgin olive oil, a special type of garlic and a particular variety of basil that results in a sublime pesto sauce.
Of course, a last-minute trip to Liguria may be out of the question (you can read more about the region here) but what's most important is you purchase the freshest ingredients possible.
An authentic recipe for pesto sauce calls for the following ingredients being crushed in a mortar:
- Italian pine nuts
- Grana Padano cheese
- Pecorino cheese
- extra virgin olive oil
The reason for using a mortar and pestle and not a food processor or blender is that the heat from the blades will ruin the basil by reducing the essential oils it releases and will darken the leaves, according to Italian food writer Roberta Schira.
If you insist on using a machine then Schira recommends adding a few ice cubes to the blender after you've pureed the ingredients to cool things off a bit.
Ready to dive in? Click here for our complete recipe for pesto along with step-by-step instructions for how to get it just right.